Wildfire owners (from left) Tonci Farac, Anthony Izzilo and Julian Izzilo. Photo: Sahlan Hayes
Circular Quay mega restaurant Wildfire will close in March, a victim of the looming upgrade of Sydney's Overseas Passenger Terminal.
A boom in cruise-ship traffic has seen pressure mount to upgrade the terminal to meet demand and also cater to the larger North American liners that don't fit under the Harbour Bridge.
Wildfire co-owner Tonci Farac has been told the Wildfire space will be reconfigured to process passengers. The Herald broke news of the redevelopment last year, and while it understands the bulk of the terminal's restaurants have been spared, including the award-winning Quay, one of Wildfire's street-level neighbours is also believed to be in the firing line.
With a reported $50 million earmarked for the redevelopment, a sizeable chunk will need to be set aside to pay out Wildfire. Farac confirmed the restaurant has 13 years left on its lease.
"We pay $1 million plus in rent. I would've thought they get more for rent from the restaurants than the ships passing through," he says.
Wildfire had hoped to relocate to another part of the terminal, but that didn't eventuate.
"We hadn't expected they would acquire our lease, but that is what they [Sydney Ports Corporation] have now notified," Anthony Izzillo says.
The human cost is telling; Wildfire employs more than 100 people. Several of the staff have been at the restaurant since it swung open its doors 12 years ago, ushering in the wood fire grill and 320 seats in a city then still wed mostly to smaller shopfront restaurants.
Farac says one of his office staff will work fulltime on trying to help place staff at other restaurants.
"This is all totally out of our control, the only thing we can do is try and find them new jobs," he says.